How on earth can a bathroom re-fit
take 7 months!? Well, doing things you've never done (i.e.
plumbing!), keeping a working bathroom at all times and only spending
about 1.5 days per week on the job certainly doesn't help...
Here's how it went.
The main trigger for the project was that Claire wanted a shower.
The fact that the bathroom was looking very tired was a further kick up
the backside to do something. Basically, apart from decorating,
it was unchanged for 21 years and had been on the to-do list for a
while. In fact, in preparation, I picked up this great book from
a charity shop in Chudleigh a couple of years ago, a book that I found
really, really helpful!
Fitting a shower had always been an issue as (a) we have low water
pressure and (b) we only had a 25 gallon tank feeding the hot
water. When the old tank split in 2011, I wanted a 50 gallon tank
in the loft ready for the shower but the plumber would only install one
over a supporting wall and I didn't want it there. So, my first
job was to install a second tank (18 gallon) that would be used for the
cold feed for the bath and shower. A pump would be used to get
good pressure and that would be fairly easy as the hot water tank was
fitted with a Surrey flange when the central heating was updated in
2010. The new tank was located above the bathroom and accessing
that section of loft was interesting to say the least!
|My 2nd home for a month!
|Good job I'm not Fat Mark anymore :-)
But I'm getting ahead of myself! The first problem was agreeing
on things. Claire fancied a sink over a vanity unit from Ikea but
I hate going to Wednesbury so we waited until we went to Cardiff for a
weekend in March as there was a branch a short drive from the B&B
we stayed in. But when we got there at just after 10am on a
Sunday, we found it didn't open until 11am! Ah well, at least I
got a 104 degree offest pan connector from Clas Ohlson during the trip!
I then discovered that Ikea had discontinued the item so there was a
lot of searching around for an alternative. I found that vanity
units were generally expensive but came across a discontinued range of
tongue and groove furniture from B&Q (20% off!) that included
one. But when it came to finding stock, only three of the four
bits we wanted were available at Halesowen and the other meant a trip
to - you've guessed it - Wednesbury, right next to Ikea! This was
all in April so it went into storage at Claire's dad's, as did the sink
we ordered from http://www.clickbasin.co.uk/
Another bargain was picked up from a vintage rally at Hanbury early in
the year. An almost new pair of pipe benders for £10!
They came in very handy and I was so proud of my first, bent pipe that
I took a picture.
|£10, wot a bargain!
|Ah, my first bend...
It was June 6th that we actually started work with Claire stripping the
walls and me cutting a hole for the extractor fan. It was then a
long and slow process of installing the tank and all the plumbing to
and from the pump in the airing cupboard (which had to be, er, modified
by cutting a big hole in the side!). The pipes under the floor
also took some work.
|New tank and extractor fan
|New pipes for bath and shower
So, it was July 20th before I was ready to remove the old bath and take
delivery of a new one from Liberty
. I'd always thought the old bath was cast iron so
would be easy to smash with a lump hammer but it turned out to be
steel. An electric saw I had in the loft did a grand job of
cutting it in two and the scrapman took it away the next day.
|It's easy with the right tools!
|New pipes for bath and shower
My friend, Malcolm, helped me out for a couple of days and we got the
new waste pipe in and the stud wall all ready for the later fitting of
the shower. Things were a bit fraught and I had to take an extra
day off work to finish off the installation. Getting the bath
level and securely fitted took a fair bit of extra work as the supplied
legs were quite flimsy. Then I had created myself even more work
by deciding that I wanted to construct my own L-shaped bath panel from
three Wickes T&G items, but it looked really nice, especially with
blue LED decking lights mounted so they came on with the extractor fan!
|L-Shaped bath with wobbly legs
|Ah, now that looks better!
Now it was August Bank Holiday week and a couple of wet days were used
fitting the new toilet and sink. After day one, we had to flush
the loo with a bucket but normal operation was resumed on day
two. Things were starting to look how I had planned and the pile
of boxes of items to be installed was getting smaller. But there
was still a way to go...
|Old sink and loo
|Old stuff out and plumbing done
|New sink and loo
It would be another month before I'd completed all the tiling around
the shower, fitted the shower
and rail, sealed the bath and fitted the shower screen.
On 26th September, Claire took her first shower and it got the thumbs
up - phew!
Tiling was another issue. Ideally, you would rip out your sink
and loo, re-tile and then fit the new ones. But having to keep a
working bathroom at all times made this impossible. This resulted
in lots of fiddly tiles needing to be cut which, inevitably, slowed
things down a lot. A bargain electric tile cutter from Aldi
(£19.99!!) came in very handy, though.
to go round the toilet cistern!
A new light fitting took a while to decide upon but we ended up with
one that matched the room nicely and only cost £10 from B&Q
so that was a result.
When it came to decorating, we'd decided the colours and bought the
paint right at the start of the project. But I, once again,
wanted to create more work by fitting tongue and groove (have you
spotted a theme here?) panels around the lower half of the wall.
I did make things easier by using Easipanels
which I highly recommend. Oh, and to finish it off, instead of
expensive, oversized and stupidly short Easipanel dado rail, I used
staff beading which looks just great and is much cheaper!
Yet another job was replacing the ugly, flat door to the airing
cupboard and the bull nose architrave around it. A four panel
door from B&Q fitted with an Olde Rim Lock from Screwfix and Ogee
architrave from Wickes looks so much better but, of course, took time
|Old airing cupboard
|New door. Note light fitting too
Finally, some more help! Claire and her dad wallpapered above the
panels. A couple of weeks later Claire put the first coat of
paint on. Now, we knew what we wanted but the choice of kitchen
and bathroom colours is very poor. Homebase had the closest in
their Jazzberry colour but it was always going to be too dark. We
took some out and stirred in some white but it still came out too
dark. Quite a bit more white was added and the second coat came
out just how we wanted!
Vinyl flooring had also been something we found difficult to agree
on. We'd looked through the books at Carpet Right, United Carpets
and Kidderminster Carpets to no avail. Only when we went to a
local store in Bromsgrove did we find Lifestyle
. We both agreed it was just what we wanted.
By this point, I was glad to actually pay someone to fit it as I'd had
enough and I knew he'd do a better job than me! It was fitted on
After that, it was just finishing touches. One thing I must say
is do shop around for accessories. BathStore
charge some really
silly prices (er, toilet roll holders for £39!?!?!?) but we got
ours from Wilkinsons. Perfect ceramic and chrome lightpulls were
just two pounds each :-)
|Loo roll holder
|Sink, taps and tiles
So, before I knew it, 7 months of my life had disappeared to the
biggest DIY job I have ever done (yes, bigger than the
IMHO). But we had the bathroom we both wanted and
something I feel really proud to say, "I did [most of...] that".